Protecting children from exposure to lead is important to lifelong health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that even low levels of lead detected in blood tests have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention and academic achievement. Effects of lead exposure cannot be reversed.
There are many ways parents can reduce a child’s exposure to lead. The most important is stopping children from coming into contact with it.
How are children exposed to lead?
Lead-based paint and dust are the most hazardous sources of exposure for children. All houses built before 1978 are likely to contain some lead-based paint. However, it is the deterioration of this paint that causes a problem.
Who is at risk?
Children under the age of 6 are at the greatest risk because they develop rapidly during those early years, meaning exposure to lead will have lasting consequences. Also, children tend to put objects that may be contaminated with lead dust, such as their hands, into their mouths.
What can be done to prevent exposure to lead?
It is important to determine the construction year of the house or the dwelling where your child spends a large amount of time. If it was built before 1978, take these preventative measures:
- Talk to your state or local health department about testing paint and dust from your home for lead.
- Make sure your child does not have access to peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint.
- Children and pregnant women should not participate in activities that disturb old paint or in cleaning up paint debris after work is completed.
- Create barriers between living areas and lead sources.Apply temporary barriers, such as contact paper or duct tape, to cover holes in walls or to block children’s access to other sources of lead.
- Regularly wash children’s hands and toys.
- Regularly mop floors and wipe window components to eliminate lead-based dust.
- Take off shoes when entering the house to prevent bringing in lead-contaminated soil from outside. Also, prevent children from playing in bare soil.
For more information regarding lead poisoning, visit www.cdc.gov.